How to get the best deals at Outlet malls

For some shoppers, the outlet mall is a vacation destination this summer.  While there are some bargains to be had, it may not be as good of a deal as you think.  Here's what you need to know.

Chances are that JCrew shirt you bought at the outlet was never in a real JCrew. It was actually made for the outlet.  While stores used to feature less popular or out of season merchandise, these days they are full of clothes made just for the outlet.  Gap, Banana Republic, and even high end brands like Coach, make items only for the outlet.

Whether it's a different fabric or made cheaply, it's not going to be up to the same standards as the regular brand.  It still might be worth getting, but keep that in mind.

There's a reason outlets are typically off the beaten path.  Partially it's to find a site with enough real estate for the stores and one that's far enough away from the actual stores, but it's also a strategy to keep you shopping.  If you drive out of your way to shop, chances are you'll feel like you should buy something.  

You may not need to head to the outlets at all.  JCrew and Barney's outlet is online. Flash sale sites like Gilt and My Habit are kind of like limited time only outlets.

Finally, remember outlets don't guarantee low prices.

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